The Ultimate One-Day Detox
It started with a bite-sized cookie. A sip of beer. A handful of chips. You promised yourself today would be different. And you were doing so well! But that was days ago. And now it's days later and you're in the same sorry state: groggy, bloated and (at least) 5 pounds heavier than you were before you caved to that first cookie. Now what? Before you launch into a new regime, kickstart your weight loss with the easiest 24-hour cleanse of your life. These simple, by-the-hour Eat This, Not That! detox tips will help you beat the bloat, boost your metabolism and exceed your weight loss goals without having to do a full-blown juice cleanse. And melt fat in just seven days on The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse! Test panelists lost up to 10 pounds in one week!
7:30 Am—Skip Breakfast
Sorry, kitchen's closed! At least for 12 hours since you last ate. Nighttime fasting—or reducing your "eating window"—may help to reset your metabolism and burn the extra glucose in your system after a period of overindulgence, according to a study in the journal Cell Metabolism. Researchers put groups of mice on a high-fat, high-calorie diet for 100 days (and you thought the 12 days of Christmas were bad!). Half the mice were allowed to nibble throughout the night and day on a healthy, controlled diet, while the others only had access to food for eight hours, but could eat whatever they wanted. The result of the 16-hour food ban? The fasting mice stayed lean, while the mice who noshed 'round the clock became obese—even though both groups consumed the same amount of calories! There are more aggressive fasting protocols, but 12 hours without food is enough for most people to enter into a fasted state, according to some experts.
8 Am—Take a Brisk Walk Outside
This easy a.m. ritual works on two levels. First, a recent study found that exposure to UV rays, even on a cloudy day, between the hours of 8 am and noon reduces your risk of weight gain regardless of activity level, caloric intake, or age. Researchers speculate that the morning light synchronizes your metabolism and undercuts your fat genes. And burning calories before you eat means you're exercising in a fasted state—the energy you burn comes right from your fat stores instead of the glucose still in your system. According to some studies, exercising in a fasted state can burn almost 20 percent more fat compared to exercising with fuel in the tank.
9 Am—Replenish with Spa Water
Drink water to lose water! Cocktails are abundant over the holidays, as well as salty nosh and nibbles—all of which can leave you dehydrated and bloated. Alcohol and salt throw off the effect of antidiuretic hormone on the kidneys—the chemical that controls how much you urinate. As a result, you pee frequently and body holds on to what little water is left; that's why you feel bloated. Start replenishing your body asap with a large pitcher of water with sliced whole lemons and oranges for natural detoxifying benefits. Citrus fruits are rich in the antioxidant de-limonene, a powerful compound found in the peel that stimulates liver enzymes to help flush toxins from the body and gives sluggish bowels a kick, according to the World Health Organization. That's why it's also one of our 8 Easy Strategies for Rapid Weight Loss.
10 Am—Break Your Fast with B6
Breakfast time! You're about to feel a whole lot better with the push of a button—the blender button. Throw a large ripe banana (peeled and then frozen are best!), some non-dairy milk and a scoop of your favorite protein powder in a blender and flip the switch, baby. Bananas are one of best natural sources of vitamin B6, which a study printed in the Journal Annals of Nutrition showed can reduce hangover symptoms by as much as 50 percent! They're also brimming with potassium, a mineral lost by frequent urination when you drink.
11 Am—Forgive and Forget
So you had a few cookies! Ok, maybe you made your way through a tray. Fogetaboutit. No, really. Quit worrying and you'll feel lighter—instantly! A study in the journal Appetite found dieters who associated chocolate cake with feeling guilty were less successful at losing weight compared to those who associated the indulgence with celebration. Researchers say food guilt can lead people to feel "out of control" and give up on weight loss goals. Another study in the journal PLOS One found a guilty conscience can literally weigh you down; participants reported a heavier self-perceived weight when they felt they'd done something wrong. Let go of the guilt, and remember those holiday cookies for what they were: a delicious tradition!
12 Pm—Light a Minty Candle
Toss the remaining candycanes and enjoy a zero-calorie peppermint-scented candle instead. The essential oil found in mint leaves has analgesic properties that studies show serve as a muscle-relaxant and natural remedy for headaches. Relax into your recovery by lighting a minty candle or sniffing some peppermint oil; you may actually get the added benefit of losing a bit of the weight. One study published in the Journal of Neurological and Orthopaedic Medicine found that people who sniffed peppermint every two hours lost an average of 5 pounds a month! Let a minty candle burn for a couple hours before you go to bed (blow it out before bedtime, though). And to lose even more weight, don't miss these 42 Ways to Lose 5 Inches of Belly Fat.
1 Pm—Spear Your Lunch
Still asking the Hangover Gods for forgiveness? Ask a loved one to please prepare you a side of steamed asparagus with a protein-rich lunch. According to a study in the Journal of Food Science, the amino acids and minerals found in asparagus may alleviate hangover symptoms and protect liver cells against toxins. The veggie spears are also a natural diuretic, which will help flush the excess toxins from your system. Avoiding starchy carbs will help to further relieve your body of bloat, while protein—rich in vitamin B6 and amino acids—will help to alleviate groggy hangover symptoms.
2 Pm—Brew an Ancient Remedy
Red ginseng tea—part of The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse—belongs to the botanical family panax, which translates from Greek to mean "all heal." Sounds promising already, right? A study in the journal Food & Function found that participants who sipped on a red ginseng drink saw a significant reduction of plasma alcohol levels and hangover severity (from whiskey—ouch!), in comparison to the placebo group. If you had one too many to help deal with the family bickering, slip out to the store; you can find ginseng tea in most supermarkets.
3 Pm—Nix Nap Time
If you're still feeling gassy and sorry for yourself, the worst thing you can do is probably exactly what you want to do most: spread out on the couch and take a nap. A study in the appropriately-titled journal Gut found that being upright was much more effective in reducing intestinal gas retention than lying down on the back. Posture, the researchers say, has a big influence on the movement of gas through the system. Another study found walking at a leisurely pace on a treadmill after eating a large meal helped food move through the stomach much more quickly than an espresso or alcoholic digestif, so take another leisurely walk around the neighborhood.
4 Pm—Snack on These Nourishing Treats
You may be tempted to reach for the meds, but medicating with vitamins from whole foods—blueberries in particular—is a much better, all-natural option to perk-up a compromised immune system. In fact, you can think of each sweet little blueberry as a pill that'll make you feel a whole lot better. Oregon State University recently took a look at over 400 compounds for their ability to boost the immune system, and the study revealed blueberries as a standout due to a compound called pterostilbene. Goodbye Pepto Bismol, hello Pterostilbene! Bored with plain blueberries? Try any of our 50 Best Snacks for Weight Loss for nourishing eats that are also delicious.
5 Pm—Pull on Your Stretchy Pants
Stretchy yoga pants, that is. Restorative yoga is a gentle way to relieve you of any lingering holiday stress and guarantee a good night's sleep. It's during sleep, researchers say, that the brain detoxes harmful toxins associated with stress and harmful disease. What's more, University of Pennsylvania researchers found practicing yoga for as little as 20 minutes daily banishes insomnia as effectively as sleeping pills! Peaceful stretches and controlled breathing aids production of GABA—a brain hormone that lulls the body into a calm, relaxed state, the study authors say. Sounds like exactly what you need after all those holiday parties, doesn't it? Say it together now…Om.
6 Pm—Unplug and Unwind
We know. The last time you went to bed at 6 p.m. you were six-years-old. But if you can at least start thinking about getting to bed a few hours earlier than usual, you might actually get a few more hours shut-eye. And you need it. The late-night celebrating may have done a number on your weight loss efforts. A recent study found sub-par sleep could undermine weight loss by as much as 55 percent! Start to unwind by x-ing out of this browser, and shutting down all your digital devices. A recent study found people who basked in the nighttime glow of just one electronic device were 1.47 times as likely to be overweight as people who kept their chambres unplugged. Leave your iPad in the living room. And your phone and laptop, too.